Officials broke ground Thursday for a new corporate hangar at the Bedford County Airport which will house more large jets to accommodate what economic development officials hope is a growing corporate community.
The hangar will be the fourth corporate hangar at the airport and will also provide new office space.
The hangar will provide 12,000-square-feet of hangar floor that may accommodate three to five corporate jets.
The total cost for the project is $2.65 million; about $2.36 million of which is general construction, said Steve George, chairman of the Bedford County Airport Authority.
About $795,000 of the project — 30 percent — will be funded through a local match from the tenants who will be parking their aircraft in the hangar, George said. The remainder, about $1.85 million, will be funded through a grant from the state Department of Transportation’s Multimodal Transportation Aviation program.“It’s really important to do this project because we have no more room at the inn,” George said. The airport’s three existing hangars house aircraft for 28 tenants.
George said the authority was faced with a decision to either expand or remain static.
“We either say, well, we stay the way we are and don’t grow or we take the plunge,” George said during a groundbreaking ceremony.
Cliff Clark of Clark Contractors in Bedford said work is set to begin Oct. 21. The project completion date is around May 8 of 2020.
Anthony McCloskey, director of aviation for PennDOT, said in his remarks the new hangar will be able to house “most comfortably five Citation jets. That’s nice and roomy.” It also will include 3,000-square-feet of office space for the fixed base operator Bun Air Corp., along with maintenance and piloting staff.
An apron expansion in front of where the hangar will be was completed this summer to further accommodate heavier jet traffic.
McCloskey said the airport’s economic contributions have grown significantly in the past few years.
In an economic impact assessment conducted by the bureau in 2011, the study showed that the airport contributed $8 million annually to the region’s economy; in 2019, that grew to $12 million.
Rick Holes of the engineering firm, L.R. Kimball, said the application for the project was submitted in 2014. But last year, the cost ballooned as President Donald Trump’s tariffs caused steel and alumni prices to spike.
“So our prices went through the roof. We went back to the drawing board,” Holes said.
But Jim DeLong, presdent of Bun Air, assured them the hangar could be filled and support funding, Holes said.
“Credit the DeLongs (Jim and wife, Jenny) for stepping in and saying, ‘If you guys build this hangar, we think we can fill it and we cay pay for it that way.’ ”
Jim DeLong said the more activity the airport can attract, the more revenue it will generate. If more businesses open in Business Park I, which is adjacent to the airport, or nearby Business Park 2, they may need more aircraft for transport.
“When we’re trying to attract a company of some reasonable caliber, a lot of times, aviation is a part of the way they do business and they need resources such as the Bedford County Airport to support their business and growth,” DeLong said.
The local financing was created through a consortium of local banks, George said.
The lead bank is Altoona First Savings, he said, with Hometown Bank and Somerset Trust also providing some financing.
Allen Harr, vice president of Altoona First, said the project for the three banks was important.
George said not only is the airport accommodating aircraft, both based and transient, but DeLong also supplies avionics servicing, aircraft repair and maintenance. Fuel sales are also an important part of the airport’s revenue, he said.
DeLong also operates a small charter airline that employs 12 pilots.
DeLong said now the airport and the authority must put together a marketing plan that will inform possible tenants the benefits of the airport and the area.
“It’s probably going to take a concerted effort,” he said. “We have a big story to tell here.”
U.S. Rep. John Joyce, state Rep. Jesse Topper and Bedford County commissioners Josh Lang and Paul Crooks also provided brief remarks. Tonya Clark represented state Sen. Wayne Langerholc.
The Bedford County Chamber of Commerce organized the ceremony.